Zimbabwe health sector on the brink

The country’s health sector was yesterday left teetering on the brink of collapse after nurses joined a two-week-long wild-cat strike by medical practitioners, leaving a dire situation within the public health system.

Zimbabwe health sector on the brink

The operation of public hospitals has suffered another blow as nurses have also downed their tools after talks with the Health ministry collapsed on Thursday. Health practitioners have been on strike for over two weeks now and are demanding an increase in on-call allowances and an improvement in their working conditions.

Yesterday, patients were turned away from both Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals as nurses stayed away.

Harare Central Hospital only attended to a few patients in the morning before completely shutting down services. Stranded patients could be seen milling around the main outpatients department unsure of which course of action to take.

A student doctor at the hospital confirmed that the situation was so dire and admitted patients had to be discharged prematurely.

“We sympathise with the patients but the truth is there is not enough resources for us to use,” he said.

The NewsDay Weekender crew witnessed a City of Harare ambulance being turned away from the hospital with the patient still on the stretcher as there was no one to help.
By 2pm, the handful of staff at Parirenyatwa hospital that had braved it out attending only to very critical cases was also packing their bags in solidarity with fellow nurses countrywide.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) secretary-general, Enock Dongo said they were disappointed after a meeting with Health minister David Parirenyatwa.

“On Wednesday, we agreed on certain improvements on night duty allowances and the reintroduction of nurse manager’s allowance. But they reneged on that and made changes and omitted some of the improvements we had agreed upon. Nationally, we are not attending to any patient till the minister gives us a sounding deal,” he said.

He added the nurses in other towns and cities like Bulawayo, Harare, Kadoma and Marondera had stayed away. Health ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji said there would be a caucus meeting to address the issues. “We hope for a more favourable outcome,” he said.

At the close of another meeting between the Health Services Board and the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) a deadlock was declared. “The HSB representative showed up late and misrepresented facts. They ignored our request for rural risk allowance and offered ridiculous on-call allowances,” ZHDA spokesperson Mxolisi Ngwenya said.

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